Makoto Shinkai has a genuine talent for dramatic, emotional storytelling, crafting narratives that are at once so grand in scale as to make viewers reflect on their place in the universe and flow of time, yet so intimate as to crystallize those feelings as a relationship between two people. But what the director does better than arguably anyone else in the business is make anime that’s achingly beautiful to look at, and the just-released trailer for “Weathering with You” (“Tenki no Ko” in Japanese) shows that Shinkai is in prime form for his newest film.
Officially announced in December, the events of “Weathering with You” kick off when 16-year-old high schooler Hodaka Morishima runs away from his home in the countryside to come to the big city, and just like the urban half of Shinkai’s hit “your name.,” “Weathering with You” looks to be an unabashed visual love letter to Tokyo, with real-life locations from the capital such as Roppongi Hills’ Mori Tower and the Rainbow Bridge which connects the city to the island of Odaiba rendered in excruciating detail.
The skyline of the Shinjuku neighborhood, where much of “your name.” took place, can also be seen as female lead Haruna Amano ascends the steps of a mid-rise, where a Shinto shrine is waiting on the roof. As Haruna steps past patches of wildflowers, she presses her hands together in prayer and passes underneath the torii gate, and something magical happens: the rain stops falling and starts to rise.
Just as the plot of “your name.” hinged heavily on Shinkai’s version of its in-anime Shinto rituals, “Weathering with You” also looks to be influenced by Japan’s indigenous, nature-based religion, with even Haruna’s hairdo evocative of the style commonly seen in depictions of ancient Japanese folklore. There’s also a brief glimpse of her stepping past a cucumber and eggplant, placed as offerings to ancestor spirits for Japan’s Obon celebration, suggesting that “Weathering with You”will take place during the summer, the same season Shinkai originally came up with the film’s concept.
The first half of the trailer is set to a series of piano note, with Hodaka and Haruna narrating “This is the tale of a secret about the world that only she and I know” and “On that day, we ended up changing the shape of the world.” At it’s most dramatic moment, though, the vocals of Yojiro Noda, singer for Japanese rock band Radwimps (the group responsible for the “your name.” amazingly catchy soundtrack), kick in, asking “Is there anything more that love can do? Is there anything more that I can do?”
▼ In addition to the return of Radwimps, “Weathering with You” also features a cat, continuing Shinkai’s on-screen appreciation of felines that began with his 1999 short “She and Her Cat.”
“Weathering with You” is scheduled for release in Japanese theaters on July 19.